Thursday, October 01, 2009

The Ins and Outs of Endorsements

Obviously I have no first-hand information but I would guess that the editorial board of the Santa Barbara News-Press (that would be owner Wendy McCaw and the two bobble-head dolls known as Arthur von Wiesenberger and Travis Armstrong) must have agonized over whether or not to come out and endorse any candidates in the upcoming municipal election.

Two years ago when eight candidates were running for three council seats, the News-Press endorsed Dale Francisco, Michelle Giddens and Frank Hotchkiss.

Francisco made the cut finishing third. The other two finished out of the money. Giddens came in fifth and Hotchkiss finished sixth.

Batting .333 is acceptable if you're playing baseball. In any other pursuit, one out of three is nothing to write home about.

The News-Press has a history of overrating the influence of its endorsements. Last November, the paper desperately tried to take credit for defeating Hannah-Beth Jackson in her State Senate race with Tony Strickland. In fact, Jackson soundly won in that part of the district that encompassed the News-Press' distribution area.

Given that history of exaggeration, it's fair to assume that the News-Press wants to endorse winners.

Given the contrarian nature of McCaw coupled with the fact that many of the front-runners in this year's races aren't exactly Wendy's glass of chablis, the News-Press could easily strike out as it tries to swing for the fences in order to demonstrate its influence.

Nevertheless, on the eve of the last weekend prior to ballots being mailed out, the News-Press endorsed Michael Self for city council.

Calling her, "A reformer you can count on," the News-Press is clearly counting on Self to get on base, and score a run for its prestige.

By my reckoning, only four council candidates in the field of 13, would be to the News-Press' liking: Self, Hotchkiss, Cathie McCammon and Justin Tevis.

Tevis has no major endorsements and has raised very little money. Self, Hotchkiss and McCammon have raised lots of money thanks to the deep pocket from Dallas, Randall Van Wolfswinkle. Self and Hotchkiss also have the endorsement of the Santa Barbara Police Officer's Association, while McCammon does not. The News-Press bet on Hotchkiss before and lost. So my guess is that Self will be the only candidate for council that the paper publicly endorses.

The Independent, which in the past has boasted that their, "endorsements are exceedingly prescient, with a record of influence and accuracy unmatched in Santa Barbara County," has now endorsed Bendy White, Grant House and David Pritchett for the three city council seats.

House and White are also endorsed by the SEIU.

Pritchett is undoubtedly the one candidate the News-Press wants to see defeated more than any other, given his past history of opposing the paper's ownership and championing the cause of the embattled journalists there.

Dianne Channing, in her second try at the council, is the only candidate in that race to be endorsed by the Police Officer's Association, the Firefighter's Association and the SEIU. I figure the Police Officer's endorsement is worth more to Channing than it is to either Hotchkiss or Self, as voters who are likely to be influenced by the police endorsement were probably inclined to vote for Hotchkiss and Self anyway.

And, Channing, House and White all got the endorsement of the local Democratic party.

So, the News-Press would seem to have a lot riding on their endorsement of Self. And they're hoping that she doesn't strike out.
© 2009 by Craig Smith and